Chicken Tamale Pie


I found this recipe on Food52’s Instagram feed – a great place for food inspiration, but NOT a great place to find fat loss-friendly eats.

Good thing I never let that stop me.  :)

I made a few changes to this recipe:

  • Reduced fat – I reduced the amount of olive oil from 3 Tbs. to 1 1/2 Tbs.
  • Reduced carbohydrates – I used one can of black beans instead of two.
  • Increased vegetables – I added a chopped bell pepper and 1/2 c. pickled jalapeños
  • Increased protein – I added an extra 1/4 lb. of chicken (and could have added more!)
  • Increased flavor – Doubled the seasonings and spices from the original recipe after reading the comments on

TIP: Don’t just blindly follow recipes.  TASTE your dish throughout the cooking process and adjust seasonings as you see fit.  Had I not read through the comments on this recipe and adjusted the seasonings, it would have been terribly bland – and a huge waste of time and ingredients.

Dude- And Latino-Approved

Alex had 2 servings and dubbed it “really good,” so this is man-approved and (more importantly) Latino-approved.  His mother makes tamales from scratch, but I’m more likely to make this Chicken Tamale Pie because it’s faster, healthier, and less labor-intensive.

We topped ours with a big spoonful of Greek yogurt (tastes just like sour cream but is higher in protein) and Cholula hot sauce.  If you’re making it for kids, I would omit the pickled jalapeños and let them add a little cheese.

This Chicken Tamale Pie is filling, high in protein and fiber, and taste like a really indulgent, comfort food (read: high in fat and carbs).

Great Saturday night dinner!

FAT LOSS TIP: If you want to reduce the carbohydrates in this dish even more, omit the topping.  The chicken chili – what’s underneath the “tamale” topping (see photo directly below) – is amazing on its own without the polenta topping!



Adapted from


For the chili:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
1 4-ounce can green chilies
1 12-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 c. pickled jalapeños, drained
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper

For the topping:

3/4 c. polenta
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. water

OPTIONAL: 1/4 c. shredded Kraft 2% Mexican Cheese Blend


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add cubed chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until browned on all sides.
  3. Add chopped onion, peppers, and garlic to the pot and cook down until soft and fragrant. Add cumin, chili powder, and coriander.  Add beans, corn, chilies, and tomatoes, including the liquid.  Stir to combine, then add jalapeños.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring mix to a boil and allow to cook and thicken. When nearly done, add chicken and mix in, heating through to finish. Remove chili from heat.
  5. In a small pot, heat water and salt over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil. Stir in cornmeal and continue whisking while it incorporates the water and thickens, which should take about 5 minutes. Add some fresh cracked black pepper. Remove from heat.
  6. Into a deep round glass dish, pour all of the chili. Spread polenta mixture over the top of the chili, and spread into a single layer.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until polenta has firmed up.
  8. For the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, sprinkle top of polenta with shredded cheese and put under the broiler until top is lightly browned and bubbly. Allow to cool briefly before serving.

Nutrition Info (for 1/6 of recipe without toppings):

427 calories, 10 g. fat, 44 g. carbs, 13 g. fiber, 38 g. protein


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